Tokyo 2020 bid chief Takeda emphasizes safety
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Tokyo 2020 bid chief Takeda emphasizes safety

TOKYO (AP) — The leader of Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics emphasized the Japanese capital’s safety while insisting closure had been reached over comments by the city’s governor criticizing rival Istanbul.

“Tokyo is one of the world’s safest and most welcoming cities,” Tsunekazu Takeda said Friday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “It has world-class accommodation, transport, infrastructure and hosting experience.”

Takeda added that Tokyo’s bid offers certainty in uncertain times but stressed that safety was also an important aspect of the city’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

“To be safe is very important for the games,” Takeda said. “But this is something that hasn’t changed from our previous bid.”

Takeda also commented on Tokyo governor Naoki Inose’s remarks about Istanbul.

“Tokyo 2020 respects the IOC rules which prohibit commenting on other cities,” Takeda said. “Governor Inose made remarks which he apologized for and the IOC told us the matter is closed.”

Inose suggested in an interview with the New York Times that Istanbul was less developed and less equipped to host the games than Tokyo.

Inose was also quoted as saying “the only thing (Muslim countries) share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.”

The governor later apologized and Turkey said it accepted the apology. Takeda declined to comment on how the comments could affect Tokyo’s chances of winning, saying only the matter was closed.

Madrid is the third city bidding for the 2020 Games. The IOC will select the host city on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Takeda also emphasized the financial security of Tokyo’s bid.

“The city enjoys the largest GDP of any city in the world,” Takeda said. “It already has a Games fund of $4.5 billion in the bank, as well as full government financial guarantees.”